My name is Dolores Termini and I started as a full-time Applications Lab Intern at Veeco this past summer and continue interning part-time during the fall semester. This internship has helped me broaden my knowledge base of semiconductors, metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD), and material characterization thus far. As someone who does not have a direct background in any of these fields, the experience has been new and exciting.
With an undergraduate degree in optical engineering, I was able to apply some of my knowledge and understanding to the characterization tools used to help characterize wafers with different devices. Some of the characterization techniques I have learned about and have used include ellipsometry, atomic force microscopy (AFM), x-ray diffraction, electro-luminescence mapping, and optical microscopy.
For example, I was able to use ellipsometry to determine the thickness of aluminum nitride (AlN) films on a few wafers which helped with the development of an MOCVD recipe. I also used AFM to see the topography of wafer surfaces which helps us see hillocks and pits that appear on a wafer’s surface which could indicate a problem with crystal growth leading to a change in MOCVD recipes for that specific device.
In addition to using characterization tools that already exist, I was working with one of Veeco’s scientists on a new optical setup to identify slip lines in wafers. We worked together to cross-reference the parts and components that we had with ones that we needed to minimize. Based on these facts and my knowledge of optics, I was able to make a Solidworks assembly of the setup to understand the spacing of all the components. From this, we created a bill of materials to determine the price. This was my first experience pricing a setup and using Solidworks so extensively. It was great to see how the knowledge I already had could be used in different, and sometimes unexpected, ways.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, I was not able to perform these lab measurements until I became an intern at Veeco. My lab classes were unable to meet since I was an online student for the last year. This internship has helped me get hands-on experience with tools that I had learned about but was never able to use in person due to COVID restrictions at school.
Already during my first couple weeks as a graduate student studying material science, I can see that a lot of the work I have done at Veeco is extremely applicable to my classwork. Transitioning to a slightly different field for graduate studies can be difficult but this internship has helped me learn a lot of meaningful background when working with scientists and lab technicians. This has been a great opportunity thus far and I look forward to how I can learn more about MOCVD and semiconductors.